Workers block Tangerang-Serang road

Traffic was fouled for four hours and for up to 15 kilometers around Serang as thousands of workers blocked the toll road between Tangerang and Merak on Tuesday, demanding an increase in the regency’s minimum wage.

The rally started at kilometer 55 near the Ciujung toll gate, where protesters staged a motocycle convoy to Serang Regent Taufik Nuriman’s office.

The workers, coming from 25 unions, rallied at Taufik’s office on Jl. Veteran to protest his recommendations on setting the local minimum wage for 2012.

“Today, we will stage a rally at the regent’s office in Serang to show our refusal of the…monthly regional wage for 2012 that he has approved,” Aweng, coordinator of the National Labor Union (SPN) of Nicomas Shoe Industry, told The Jakarta Post.

Taufik previously recommended that the regency’s minimum monthly wage be set at Rp 1,320,500 (US$141.70) for 2012, below workers’ demands for Rp 1,469,500. Dozens of officers from the Serang Police’s Mobile Brigade special operations unit could not prevent the workers from entering the Ciujung toll gate.

Sofyan, a Jakarta businessman and a toll road user, said that the police should not allow the workers to create a public disturbance on the turnpike. “I have an appointment with a businessman in Cilegon at 1 p.m., but now it’s 3 p.m., and I am still here on the toll road waiting for the workers to give way,” he said.

In response to the complaint, a police officer patrolling the toll road between Tangerang and Merak said that the police should take persuasive action to deal with the workers.

“There have been instructions from Serang Police chief Adj. Comr. Adi Suseno to let the workers enter the turnpike. If we prevent them, a physical conflict would be inevitable,” said the officer who declined to be named.

On Dec. 30, thousands of workers from 20 labor unions blocked the toll road between Tangerang and Merak at kilometer 28-800, near the Bitung gate, after they were prevented from conducting a “long march” from Tangerang city to the Banten governor‘s office in Serang along Jl. Raya Serang.

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